WALTHAM, Mass. – After leading by 12 with 2:17 to play, the Bentley University Falcons survived a barrage of threes in the final two minutes and held on for a 68-65 win over Merrimack College in Northeast-10 women's basketball Wednesday night at the Dana Center. It was the home and conference opener for the 3-0 Falcons.
Merrimack drilled five straight triples down the stretch to close within one, 66-65, with 10.9 seconds left. Falcon sophomore guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) made it a three-point game two seconds later with two free throws and the Warriors finally came up empty on a potential-tying three from the right corner as time expired.
Junior guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) led Bentley, the number one-ranked team in Division II, with 17 points, and senior All-America forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) followed with 16, including the 1,600th of her career. Sophomore guard Lindsay Werner (Groton) had a game-high 20 for Merrimack, including 14 in the final 3:30.
Bentley, which entered the fourth quarter up three at 43-40, gradually stretched the lead to 12, a number it hit for the first time at 57-45 with just under four minutes to play on a three from the left wing by Green.
The Falcon lead hit a dozen a couple more times, including at 62-50 with 2:17 on a Gemma lay-up. After making only 6 of their first 23 from deep, Merrimack heated up late, fueled by Werner, and all of a sudden, it was a two-point game, 64-62 with 22.8 to play.
Bentley held off the visitors with both junior Trevena Bennett (Union, N.J./Gill St. Bernard's School) and McConnell sinking two free throws in the final 16 seconds, the latter making it 68-65 with 8.9 seconds. Merrimack got the ball back to Werner, but she finally was off the mark.
Bentley took a 29-26 into the halftime break on the strength of three Green triples, the last coming from the top of the key with 43 seconds left to break a 26-all tie. The Falcons, who trailed 19-14 after the opening stanza, outscored the Warriors 15-7 in the second to jump in front.
Green, a sizzling 13 of 21 from three so far this season, knocked down five of six against Merrimack and complemented her 17 points with three rebounds and two assists. Gemma, who had a pair of triples, moved past Courtney Finn '14 into eighth on the program's career scoring list and finished the game with 1,609 points.
Bentley outshot Merrimack 45-39 percent and made nine more free throws, hitting 15-19 as compared to 6-8. The Warriors (1-2, 0-1 NE-10) had the edge in threes (11-9), rebounds (36-28) and turnovers (16-18).
Next up for the Falcons is a 4 pm game Saturday at Franklin Pierce.